Only 12 states in the U.S. use a no-fault insurance system. New Jersey is one of them. Like most states, New Jersey mandates that all drivers carry at least the minimum required amounts of auto insurance. As a no-fault insurance state, however, car accident victims will contact their own insurance companies to seek benefits from their policies – regardless of whether they were at fault for the collision. Read on to learn more about the no-fault laws to know how to handle your car accident insurance claim in New Jersey. If you have any additional questions, consult with a qualified New Jersey car accident lawyer.
How Does a No-Fault System Work?
In a fault-based insurance state, victims of the crash will seek damage recovery through the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Victims also have the right to pursue litigation through car accident lawsuits if the insurance company refuses to offer a high enough settlement. In fault-based states, victims can file lawsuits against the at-fault party regardless of the severity of injuries. In a no-fault state such as New Jersey, however, the rules are different.
The main advantage of enforcing a no-fault insurance system for the state is a reduced number of car accident lawsuits. In a no-fault state, each driver will seek insurance benefits from his/her own insurance company, no matter who caused the collision. There is no need for a victim to prove someone else’s fault to obtain insurance coverage. This rule discourages litigation and helps healthcare providers, as doctors don’t have to wait for insurance companies to determine fault before paying the bills.
Required Insurance Minimums in New Jersey
Before you can get behind the wheel in New Jersey, you must purchase a liability insurance policy with at least a certain amount of coverage. The state Department of Motor Vehicles offers two different acceptable insurance plans: basic and standard. The basic policy contains $5,000 in property damage liability per accident, $15,000 in personal injury protection per person, and up to $250,000 for very severe or permanent injuries. The basic policy does not cover bodily injury liability, but this is available as an optional add-on.
The standard insurance policy is more expensive, but it offers greater coverage for drivers. With the standard policy, you receive the same coverage amounts as the basic policy, as well as $15,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $30,000 in bodily injury liability for multiple people per accident. You also have the right to file a lawsuit with the standard policy, but not with the basic policy. You may only file a claim for pain and suffering damages in New Jersey regardless of your policy type.
How to Handle a New Jersey Car Accident Claim
After a vehicle collision, stay calm and call the police if anyone has injuries. Request an ambulance if necessary, or visit a hospital immediately after leaving the scene of the collision. Collect any evidence that may help your insurance claim, such as photographs of the accident. Once you’re in a safe location, call your insurance agent using the phone number on your card. Explain what happened, answering questions about your crash honestly. The insurance company will assign an adjuster to your case, who will investigate and evaluate your damages.
Your insurance company should then offer you a settlement amount that covers your damages in accordance with the terms of your policy. If your company denies the claim, contact an attorney. If you purchased the limited right to sue insurance option, you may file a claim if you suffer a serious or permanent injury or the loss of a loved one. With the unlimited right to sue option, you may file a claim after any type of accident. A personal injury lawsuit will generally result in higher compensation than an insurance claim alone. Contact a New Jersey personal injury attorney for further assistance with your car accident claim.